Men’s Interhall Football: Vermin, Juggerknotts chase elusive playoff win
Andrew Owens, Chris Allen, Megan Finneran and Barrick Bollman | Friday, November 6, 2009
Carroll and Knott meet in the first round of the playoffs Sunday, and both will be playing for one of the biggest wins in recent dorm history.
Neither the Vermin (2-0-2) nor the Juggerknotts (3-0-1) have lost this season, but it has been years since either won in the playoffs.
Carroll junior captain Nick Ruof said the Vermin relish the chance to be victorious in the postseason.
“It’s extremely important to Carroll Hall,” he said. “We’re playing for pride. We won’t be happy campers out in the middle of nowhere if we lose.”
The Vermin defense has anchored the team all season long and they hope for the unit to continue to play hard-nosed defense Sunday.
“The defense has been extremely important to our team,” Ruof said. “Defense wins championships, and that’s what we want to do.”
Ruof also acknowledged that the Juggerknotts will provide the Vermin a unique challenge and that Carroll will have to play a complete game to win.
“The key to beating Knott is playing good football, converting on all our possessions and not making mistakes,” he said.
Knott senior captain Aidan Fitzgerald said Knott has relied on youth to earn its first playoff berth in his career.
“We have a lot of young energy that has contributed to the strong season we have had,” he said. “We are confident in our players.”
Although the Juggerknotts are seeded above Carroll, the third seed against the sixth seed, Fitzgerald said the team will take nothing for granted.
“We need to keep playing how we have been playing all season,” Fitzgerald said. “We want to play our game and if we do that we like our chances. At practice this week we’ve been going over plays and making sure we know our assignments.”
Carroll and Knott come from different divisions, so the two teams are not familiar with each other.
“It will be a little different than our other games,” Fitzgerald said. “When we play teams in our league we know what types of plays they run and how their defense looks. We don’t know a lot about Carroll.”
The Vermin and Juggerknotts will play Sunday at 1 p.m. at Riehle Field with the winner advancing to play either Sorin or Siegfried.
Stanford vs. St. Edward’s
Two years removed from its last Interhall championship, Stanford (4-0) knows what it takes to succeed in the postseason. When the Griffins face St. Edward’s (2-2) Sunday in the first round of the playoffs, they will try to prove it.
“We have a lot of players left from the team that won two years ago,” senior captain Chris Gill said. “The players from last year’s team made the playoffs also. We all know what to expect. Being the top seed, we know [St. Edward’s would] love nothing more than to come out and beat us.”
Stanford will come out with the balanced attack that has placed them at the top of the bracket, led by junior quarterback Tony Rizzo. The defense, which stifled opponents all season, will try to stop an unpredictable St. Ed’s attack, but the Griffins are prepared.
“We’re ready for anything,” Gill said. “We just have to come out and play the way we’ve been playing and get out to an early lead. Our defense will have to watch out for trick plays.”
As the top seed playing a team that squeaked into the playoffs, Stanford might be tempted to overlook the Gentlemen, but Gill knows from experience how dangerous this match-up can be.
“My freshman year we were the eight seed and went out and beat the one seed,” Gill said. “It’s Interhall football so anybody can beat anybody. We have to play like they are the best team we will face all season.”
St. Edward’s knows it faces a challenge in playing the top-seeded Griffins, but is not intimidated.
“We haven’t really seen them, being in a different division, so all our information is hearsay and rumor,” St. Edward’s coach Cameron Hogue said. “It comes down to executing our gameplan. We’re going to play our game and make Stanford adjust to us.”
Hogue also dismissed the David vs. Goliath connotations that being a low seed playing the higher seed would conjure up.
“Being the lowest seed doesn’t add motivation for us,” Hogue said. “It’s still Interhall football and all it takes is two big plays to win the game.”
The top-seeded Griffins will take on the Gentlemen Sunday at Riehle Field at 1 p.m.
Sorin vs. Siegfried
One of the best defenses in league history will look to knock the defending champions out of the playoffs in the first round Sunday when Sorin (3-0-1) meets 2008 champion Siegfried (2-1-1).
With single elimination dictating who continues to the next round, this game begins the first of three very important weeks. Only one team will advance to the next step on the path to the Stadium.
Sorin has consistently looked to sophomore Matt Pepe to make key catches and put points on the board, along with freshman Ryan Robinson, senior Rob Gallic and numerous other men who have worked to make the Otters’ offense a strong one.
But the biggest reason for Sorin’s undefeated season lies not in its offense, but in its stalwart defense, led by junior lineman Matt Gamber.
In four games, the Otters have repeatedly stopped teams from converting on fourth down with blocks and interceptions. They have yet to allow a single point to any team in its four games.
“Coming in as a freshman, it’s pretty exciting to have a team do so well,” freshman Killian Frailey said. “It’s nice when a team can come together like this and work hard to stop our opponents.”
While Siegfried does not have a flawless record in its title defense, its offense has proven itself time and time again, scoring at least one touchdown every game thus far. The Ramblers mainly look to junior quarterback Matt Meinert to make things happen, moving the ball through both the passing and running game.
Defensively, they have only given up a total of 16 points, thanks in large part to players like junior defensive lineman Dan Scime.
“We’re all really excited that it’s the playoffs now and we want to keep the championship trophy in Siegfried,” freshman David Whitmore said.
Sorin and Siegfried will play at 2 p.m. Sunday at Riehle Field.
Morrissey vs. Dillon
In one of the most evenly matched games of the first round, Dillon (3-1) will play Morrissey (3-1) in a match-up of a strong defense against a versatile offense.
Dillon has been a dominating force throughout the season, blowing out O’Neill, Keenan and Keough. In each contest, the Big Red held their opponents scoreless while scoring multiple touchdowns. Their only loss came at the hands of undefeated and untied Stanford 12-7. The key to their success has been a solid defense, giving up only seven points all season.
“Games are won and lost in the trenches,” junior captain Jordan Smith said. “We have played well on the offensive and defensive line all year.”
Morrissey hasn’t been as dominate throughout the entire season. After blowing out an overmatched Alumni team in the beginning of the year and easily dispatching still-forming Duncan, Morrissey beat defending champion and perennial powerhouse Siegfried 9-7.
However, in their last game of the season, the Manorites suffered a defeat to Knott Hall, hamstrung by mental lapses.
After the mental mistakes cost them the game against the Juggerknotts, Morrissey’s goal in the playoffs is to win and have a very simple plan to accomplish that objective.
“We want to score points … touchdowns preferably,” senior captain Phil Yuhas said. “On defense, we need to reap some souls and not let the other guys in the end zone.”
Both teams recognize the importance of the playoffs, which is the goal of every team at the start of the season.
“The playoffs are the real season,” Yuhas said. “Special things happen in the playoffs that don’t happen in the season.”
The two teams will meet Sunday at 2 p.m. at Riehle Field with a semifinal berth at stake.